J.B. Jennings is a Delegate from the 7th Legislative District in Maryland who was elected in 2002. A believer in term limits, Jennings would not run for another term this year. With his Senate seat open via Andy Harris' bid for Congress, Jennings decided to run for State Senate. Jennings has a background in public service and the private sector that is interesting - from fighting wildfires in California as a volunteer fire fighter to his experiences as President of the Mill of Hereford, Inc / as a dairy farmer. Jennings was endorsed by Bob Ehrlich in the primary against Al Redmer, who's interview I posted earlier this week. Jennings responses to the same set of questions is as follows.
Matthew Newman: What made you decide to run for State Senate?
J.B. Jennings: Public service is in my constitution. I serve in the Air National Guard, and I have served as a volunteer fireman, so continuing public service as an official of the State should come as no surprise. Since I believe in term limits I thought that now was a good time to vacate my Delegates seat to make room for new blood and fresh ideas. I however want to continue to serve the constituents of District 7. In my candidacy for State Senate you are getting someone who knows the district intimately, understands the issues facing our residents and respects their voices.
MRN: How do you feel your experiences / background will help you in the State Senate?
JBJ: As a Delegate of 8 years, I have learned a lot in that role, formed alliances, and learned how to make things happen. Now is the time for conservative Marylanders to let their voices be heard at all levels of Government. As a State Senator, the peoples voice will be heard even louder as I work with our team of Delegates from District 7 to bring positive legislative pressure to the General Assembly.
MRN: In 2010, Maryland voters will once again have the opportunity to vote to hold a Constitutional convention. Would you be in favor of a Constitutional convention?
JBJ: Yes, I think it is healthy and helps return many aspects of state governance where it belongs...with the people.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS. Article 1. That all Government of right originates from the People...
MRN: What do you feel is the most pressing issue facing the State of Maryland today?
JBJ: Clearly the economy as a whole is the biggest issue facing the State of Maryland. The problem with just saying that it is that the economic turmoil sells the entire problem short. The economic issues facing Maryland are comprised of Local, State, as well as National factors. Addressing economic issues facing Maryland is going to require a concerted, united effort in the legislature and executive branches of state government. Fixing the problem goes beyond just reducing taxes and spending. Marylanders need a government environment that is business friendly, tax dollar conscious, and ever vigilant over how social programs can destroy our state's finances. One need not look much further than New Jersey (Governor Christie) to see that Maryland can do the same with the right team in place.
MRN: A balanced budget is required by Maryland State law, how would you ensure that we have an actual balanced budget as opposed to a budget balanced with legislative maneuvering?
JBJ: I would exercise my vote and position of leadership to stop these trainwrecks from becoming law. To me, this is similar in principle to what politicians in Washington were saying about the HCRA. Nancy Pelosi is quoted as saying "you will have to pass the bill to see what is in it". Officials in Washington promised structural fixes to the HCRA to remedy hidden massive increases in spending that were triggered by it. Those fixes are not in place, and may never be in place. This "pass it now, fix it later" environment is dangerous as it allows Maryland to have a legally mandated Operating Budget but a Capital Budget that is far from 'balanced'.
The best thing I can say about this is that I will fight to maintain a balanced state budget at all phases of creation, with an emphasis on stopping spending before it becomes problematic. Unfunded mandates are a big maneuver that destroy budgets.
Structurally, I believe Maryland must inspect every line item on the budget and look for places to reduce spending. Nothing in the budget should be sacrosanct to the point where inspecting it for cost savings is off the table. Businesses improve efficiency without decreasing service, why can't the State of Maryland. Businesses shut down or terminate programs that are not helpful, why can't we?
MRN: How do you feel the recently passed health care reform legislation will impact state spending?
JBJ: I believe that I read that the rough estimates for Maryland alone calls for at least 1 Billion dollars in spending by the State of Maryland to fund the mandates handed down to us from the Federal Government. This is especially problematic for Maryland given the preeminent necessity in reducing state spending. I am of the opinion that while most national polls show that people want it repealed (the vast majority of Americans never wanted it in the first place), it will most likely not be repealed at the federal level. Odds are against it, even if a combination of conservative candidates rise to Congressional power following the mid-terms. The best way to protect Maryland from the Health Care Reform Act, is simply to block its implementation at the State level, either through legislation that specifically blocks funding, or legislation that confirms our states sovereign right not to enact the law where states rights are trampled upon. The simple fact of the matter is that the HCRA has several serious constitutional issues, such as States being forced to spend their own money on a federal program, as well as the individual mandate to carry insurance. One of the most likely ways to put a halt to this is through State law and through the court system. We must remain ready to act on this at the first opportunity.
In closing it's safe to say that you can count on me to do whatever I can to shield Marylanders from the harm that HCRA will do the State and its citizens.
MRN: In Maryland, social issues can be a touchy subject for candidates to discuss. The next few questions will relate to social issues. What are your views on abortion?
JBJ: As a rule, I would say that you could consider me a pro-life candidate. (EDITORS NOTE: J.B. Jennings was endorsed by Maryland Right to Life along with his primary opponent, Al Redmer)
MRN: With the recently passed legislation in Arizona, illegal immigration has been on the minds of many Americans. What do you think of this legislation and do you feel similar legislation would be appropriate in Maryland?
JBJ: I think that the legislation in Arizona was only a matter of time before a state acted to protect itself from an issue like this. Maryland has become a de facto sanctuary state in terms of passive immigration policies and politics. I think that Marylanders want action on this issue, and I am willing to support legislation that is written with similar spirit, intent, and scope as the Arizona law. I would also be willing to work with other legislators to bring other helpful legislation in protecting the state from being bankrupted by the burden of illegal immigration. It is interesting to note as a closing thought that the Federal Government has been quick to bring suit over the Arizona Law, which supposedly tramples on Federal rights to enforce immigration, yet "sanctuary laws" that perhaps impinge more directly on federal authority by hiding illegals are not being attacked at all in the same manner.
MRN: What are your thoughts on Attorney General Gansler's opinion regarding the legalization of out of state same-sex marriage licenses?
Two words..."Slippery Slope". Not only does this call into question
JBJ: Maryland's right to define marriage as the people see fit, but it also creates an environment that could lead to an almost "anything goes" situation where other states laws are simply to be proxied into law in Maryland either to achieve a political end or circumvent the will of the people. For example, one must wonder if Mr. Gansler feels that out of state same-sex marriage laws should be recognized, why not recognize other states concealed carry laws or really any other states law that has not been explicitly passed in our Legislature and signed into law by our Governor.
It seems that Mr. Gansler was trying to get the desired result his boss was looking for without fully considering the ramifications of what he was doing. His legal opinion is not only dangerous, but highlights the 'by any means necessary' approach of current elected officials in pandering to their base to solve narrow issues with solutions that have broad, unpredictable outcomes.
MRN: In closing, what is one thing you want to ensure potential voters know about your candidacy?
JBJ: My record is one of serving my constituents and acting as their voice in the legislature. I have a record of working across any party line or affiliation in the interests of getting things done right for the State of Maryland, and serving honorably in the 7th District where I have lived my entire life. If elected, you can count on me to not only act on the issues we have discussed in this interview, but to continue to work towards restoring sanity and a true conservative presence in the Maryland State Senate. It has been said in many past elections that something big is on the line. I think that given the current situation the State of Maryland, and the nation as a whole is in, that it is time to vote for the future of the State of Maryland in my district, and in every district.
I thank Jennings for his honest answers to my questions. If you'd like to learn more about his candidacy, check out his official website here. Also, for comparison, here are the responses to the same questions by his primary opponent, Al Redmer. Both are excellent candidates and the district would be well served by either of them.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant